Teenagers have dysfunctional relationship with sleep: or they sleep too much or they do not sleep enough. Normally, they need between 9 and 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If they do not get enough, the consequences can be serious. According to the recent study, the teenagers need sufficient amount of deep sleep to get through normal stages of puberty.
Puberty and sleep
There are many changes that are happening in the bodies of teenagers and they all start in their brains. Scientists found that many of those changes happen and become active during sleep. And not just any sleep, but deep sleep. So, what happens if the teenagers do not get enough deep sleep?
Scientists believe that inadequate time spent in deep sleep can affect maturation of teenagers, particularly the production of luteinizing hormone responsible for ovulation in females and production of testosterone in males.
Too much or too little
Parents of teenagers are involved in a constant battle with their offspring. At times, they are impossible to wake up. At other times, their sleep is random and out of normal circadian rhythm ” “ they prefer to browse the web at night and sleep until noon. The latest study that shows the link between deep sleep and puberty maturation can at least put to rest the worry of parent of teenagers who sleep too much. They are just growing up.
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But what about those who do not sleep enough? The problem with hormonal development during puberty is not the only consequence of insufficient sleep. Without enough sleep, teenagers have problem with focusing, learning, problem solving and memory. They are more prone to pimply skin, which affects their self-esteem. They often compensate the lack of sleep with eating junk food rich in carbohydrates, which leads to obesity. Lack of sleep makes them cranky, impatient and aggressive, which result in poor performance at school and poor social life. Lack of sleep can also lead to car accidents and can lower immune system protection.
What can you do?
Take the lack of sleep of your teenager seriously. His or her future can depend on it. Explain to them how much sleep they need and why. Establish curfew and the time when they need to be in bed. You might have to lock their computer or other electronic devices so that they cannot use them at night, as they so often do. Without them, they will fall asleep, their bodies need rest. You also might have to limit their use of power drinks and caffeinated sodas. They tend to completely disrupt normal sleeping/waking cycle.
Healthy diet and enough of physical exercise, particularly outdoors, helps greatly to normalize teenagers’ sleep cycle.
Dealing with teenagers on any issue can be challenging. But when it comes to their health, it is sometimes necessary to put the food down. Console yourself that they will get out of that difficult age, and it is your job to make sure that they come out of it in a good shape.